Franklins International Ltd (Franklin’s) in Banbridge is developing its export capability to increase its competitiveness in Europe and other target markets, Leslie Ross, Managing Director of Invest Northern Ireland’s Business International, said today.

Mr Ross was speaking during a visit to the company, which manufactures and sells identity solutions including woven and embroidered badges and labels. The company has two wholly-owned subsidiaries, Thomas Ferguson & Co Ltd, a weaver of fine Irish linen damask fabrics including Double Damask linen, and Brownlow Textiles Ltd, which designs and sells a range of Irish linen gifts.

Said Mr Ross: “Franklins is working with an Invest NI client team on the implementation of many of the recommendations made by Kurt Salmon Associates, the international experts tasked by the local textiles and clothing industry to identify steps that local companies can take to meet the challenge of competition from low cost regions.

“Among the recommendations were a sharper focus on marketing, branding, product design and e-business. In line with our Principles for Business Support, which are now being rolled out to all client companies, the Invest NI client team, which was drawn from across Invest NI including Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, Industrial Research and Technology as well as Business International, helped management to develop a business solution that will enable the company to strengthen its competitiveness.

“As a result of this process, the company is increasing investment in sales and marketing, branding, design, information technology, e-commerce and quality.”

David Neilly, Managing Director of Franklins, said: “The Invest NI client team approach was extremely beneficial in that it helped us to draw on the agency’s advice and expertise. We were able to adapt its services to develop measures that support our ongoing efforts to improve performance particularly in terms of sales and productivity in an intensely competitive marketplace.

“A continuous focus on all aspects of the business is essential if we are to compete more effectively in such a challenging business environment,” he added.

Franklins, originally founded in Coventry in 1837, moved to Banbridge in 1961. It acquired Ferguson Irish Linen in 1989 and Brownlow Linens in 1999.